Gum disease is one of the most common conditions treated by the average dentist in Sacramento. Knowing a little bit about how this condition progresses can enable you to be a better informed and empowered patient. It all begins with understanding what causes gum disease in the first place.
What Happens When Plaque and Tartar Are Not Removed
You’ve probably heard that it’s important to see your dentist every six months for an oral exam and cleaning. The reason for this precaution is because of a sticky substance called plaque that can form on your teeth. Over time, it hardens into a material called tartar, which contains harmful bacteria.
It’s true that you can partially remove plaque and tartar by brushing and flossing. By themselves, however, these measures just aren’t enough. Plaque will continue to spread until it reaches your gum line. When this happens, the trouble can spread into the roots of your teeth and even further.
The Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease is a progressive illness that typically follows the following pattern:
- At this stage, the gums become inflamed and tender to the touch. They may bleed during brushing or flossing. The disease can usually be successfully treated at this phase.
- Left unchecked, the condition will spread into the fibers and bones that support your teeth. The gums may be become visibly swollen. This creates pockets in which infection can take root, causing the patient significant discomfort and setting the stage for the third phase of the condition.
- Advanced periodontitis. At this point, the bones and tissues that support the teeth have suffered significant damage. The teeth themselves may become loose and start to fall out. The patient may exhibit advanced symptoms such as persistent mouth bleeding, uncontrolled bad breath, and severe pain.
How to Prevent Gum Disease from Taking Root
As with so many dental conditions, the best way to deal with gum disease is to prevent it from starting in the first place. This comes down to basic steps like these:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day. You should use a name brand toothpaste that contains fluoride. For most people, a soft bristle brush is the best choice. You can ask your dentist to recommend a specific product.
- Flossing at least once a day. Even vigorous brushing cannot remove all the food particles that lead to plaque and tartar formation. This is why dentists recommend daily flossing is an important supplemental step. Floss brands are available in a variety of thicknesses to match virtually any oral profile.
- Eating a sensible diet. Sugary or starchy foods are fine as occasional indulgences. Most of the time, however, it’s best to stick with healthy options like reduced-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, lean meats, nuts and legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy whole grains.
- Seeing your dentist twice a year. Regular exams and cleanings are essential for preventing gum disease and other serious oral health conditions.
Tooth decay and gum disease are relentless foes. But you can tilt the tide of battle in your favor by following the tips in this post. We wish you a lifetime of good dental health, both in 2019 and throughout the years to come.
About the Author
Dr. Will Koett Jr. has been practicing dentistry in the Sacramento area for more than 15 years. Dr. Koett holds a DDS degree from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. You can reach his office online or by calling (916) 929-9222.